Plenty on line as Heat, Celtics clash again
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The Miami Heat are clinging to the slimmest of leads for a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Heat (38-39) dropped a 110-105 decision Monday night to the host Boston Celtics, who got a triple-double from Al Horford. The teams face each other again Wednesday night in Miami.
Miami holds down eighth place in the East, a half-game ahead of upstate rival Orlando, and the Heat benefited from the Magic losing 121-109 to the Toronto Raptors on Monday night, allowing Erik Spoelstra's bunch to maintain its playoff lead.
The Magic (38-40) host the last-place New York Knicks (15-62) on Wednesday.
Miami's Goran Dragic scored a game-high 30 points, Bam Adebayo had 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Dwyane Wade had 17 points and seven assists, but Boston opened the game on a 30-8 run to force the Heat to play from behind the whole game
In a pressure moment as the game neared its end, Boston's Kyrie Irving sank two free throws to put away the Heat and Wade, who received a plaque commemorating his achievements from Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge before the game.
Long-range shooting was problematic for the Heat, who opened the game by going 0 for 7 from 3-point range and finished 10 of 37 (27 percent). Center Kelly Olynyk was 3 for 10 from beyond the arc.
"Obviously, the guys showed some grit. It looked like we were shell-shocked in the first six or seven minutes," Spoelstra said of the start. "(Boston) came out with a great deal of energy. The final three quarters is what was necessary for the entirety.
"This is all hands on deck, whatever's necessary. We're fighting, scratching and clawing to try and get in this darn thing. (Every game's) like a playoff game."
Just like the Heat, the Celtics (46-32) are clinging to something significant as well. Boston currently holds a tiebreaker home-court advantage over the Indiana Pacers, who have the same record as the Celtics. Those teams are tied for fourth in the East and are almost certain to play each other in the first round. Whichever team can grab the No. 4 seed will have home court advantage.
Boston plays at Indiana on Friday night. The Celtics lead the season series, 2-1.
"We'll see when we get there," Irving said of the playoffs. "I'm pretty sure I think we know who we're going to play, but we'll see how it pans out."
Irving's 25 points paced the scoring Monday night, but he did it on just 7 of 19 shooting. Jayson Tatum matched Horford's 19 points, and Marcus Smart chipped in 16.
Horford's triple-double (19 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) was key in the Celtics' effort to hold the No. 4 seed.
Wednesday's meeting will be the final of the four-game season series. Each club has won on its home court in the three previous contests.
--Field Level Media
Updated April 2, 2019